Gen. Lance Smith is Virginia Tech's 2010 University Distinguished Achievement Award recipient
May 12, 2010
Retired U.S. Air Force General Lance Smith, an alumnus of the Pamplin College of Business, will receive Virginia Tech's 2010 University Distinguished Achievement Award.
Smith served as commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, and as NATO’s supreme allied commander for transformation, from November 2005 to November 2007. He retired from the Air Force in 2008, after 38 years of service.
As commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, Smith was one of the nation’s nine combatant commanders reporting directly to the secretary of defense and the president. He led nearly 1.2 million service members, civil servants, contract employees, and consultants providing combat resources and training to America’s war efforts around the world.
As supreme allied commander for transformation, Smith worked to train NATO’s military forces and transform their structures, capabilities, and doctrine to improve military effectiveness of the alliance, most recently focused on the fight in Afghanistan.
Prior to that job, Smith was deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, responsible for helping to oversee activities in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and Southwest Asia; including Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
A Virginia native, Smith earned his bachelor’s in business administration in 1969 and the following year received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He also earned a master’s degree from Central Michigan University and attended the Air Command and Staff College, the Army War College, and the Advanced Executive Program at Northwestern University.
Smith spent more than 13 years in command during war and peace, ranging from commanding two Air Force fighter wings and two composite expeditionary wings in the Middle East, to service as the 7th Air Force commander and air component commander for all Allied air forces in South Korea.
Smith also was the commander and president of the United States Air Force Air War College; the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany; and the Air Force Doctrine Center.
As a command pilot, Smith logged more than 3,000 flight hours in a wide variety of fighter aircraft. He flew more than 150 combat missions, including ones in Vietnam, Laos, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He earned three Silver Stars, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 10 Air Medals, and the Purple Heart in combat.
Smith currently serves on the executive committee of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the executive board of the North Carolina Military Foundation, and the board of directors for Rylex Consulting.
In 2009, Smith delivered the keynote address at Virginia Tech's University commencement ceremony.
Virginia Tech presents the University Distinguished Achievement Award each commencement to a man or woman of national distinction in a field of enduring significance to society.